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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

The Clash of the Juvenile Titans

A few weeks ago I never thought I’d be saying this, but suddenly the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile may be shaping up as the most interesting of the World Championship 15-race menu. Always one of my favorites, it’s the race that best gets the anticipation train rolling for the following year. Is there a potential superstar for next spring’s classics? Who will be the champion two-year-old male of the year? Which horse will greet the winter as the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby? More often than not, it is the BC Juvenile that answers each of those burning questions. Despite the fact that there has only been one horse (Street Sense) that has completed the Juvenile-Derby double, it is without question easily the most important race of the year for the younger set. While last year displayed the great potential of the winner, in Uncle Mo, this year’s edition promises a clash of hotshots coming from all over the nation.  Representing the East will be Union Rags, from the West it will be Creative Cause, while the Midwest will offer up Hansen.


Hansen may have only run twice so far, but it would be hard to imagine how he could have been more impressive in the pair. Both run at Turfway Park, in Northern Kentucky, the grey son of Tapit won them by a combined margin of 25 ¼ lengths for red-hot trainer, Michael Maker. After running off with a 5 ½ maiden race, Hansen stepped up in both distance and class with a freewheeling, front-running tour de force that saw him hit the finish line more than 13 lengths in front of his Kentucky Cup Juvenile competition at 1 1/16 miles. He will need to take another big step up in competition, and prove he can handle dirt like he does synthetics to win the Breeders’ Cup, but there can be no denying that this one is a unique talent.


Trainer Michael Matz certainly has one attractive specimen in the undefeated Union Rags.  The son of Dixie Union is three for three, and is looking more impressive with each start. Union Rags broke his maiden going five furlongs at Delaware Park in July, before winning the Grade 2 Saratoga Special in the Saratoga slop by 7 ¼ lengths on August 15. But it was yesterday’s performance that has really ratcheted up the potential meter on the Phyllis M. Wyeth homebred. Bottled up on the far turn, Union Rags smoothly weaved through traffic in mid-stretch before exploding to run away with the Grade 1 Champagne by 5 ¼ overpowering lengths. Surely the win will send him to Louisville as the Breeders’ Cup favorite.

And last, but certainly not least is the California representative of the terrific trio, Creative Cause. He may be the only one of the three to taste defeat, but make no mistake; this grey son of Giant’s Causeway is the real deal. After being in the middle of a Malachi Crunch when running third as the heavy favorite in the Del Mar Futurity, Creative Cause came back with a dominant performance to take the Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes by a widening 3 ¼ lengths over the highly regarded Drill. Save the Futurity fiasco, Creative Cause is perfect in three starts, including two graded stakes, and appears to relish the two-turn, 1 1/16 mile trip that he will see at Churchill Downs.

So what’s it going to be? Something has to give … each of the transcontinental trio has the potential to be any kind, making the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile a most intriguing race to ponder for the next four weeks. Could one of these three be racing’s next superstar? And if so … which one?



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Older Comments about The Clash of the Juvenile Titans...

Of the 3 I would slightly lean toward Union Rags over Creative Cause because he looked so visually impressive despite all the traffic trouble. I think the book is still out on Hansen. Its good that he's been 2 turns, but he's never been on dirt & who knows what type of horses he was beating.
I really love Union Rags. I like Hasen, but yesterday, Majestic City (my fav!) ran the same distance 3 seconds faster then Hansen. He is visually impressive, but I'm not impressed by his times.
Union Rags and Hansen are the visual dazzlers here, I can't choose between them yet. Creative Cause like you said beat some really nice two year olds out west, but he doesn't look as dominant to me yet. Union Rags has the upper hand at the moment becuase of the competition and locations he's run (Saratoga and Belmont), but Hansen looks like a super star. I'm very eager to see him on dirt.
Can't wait for this match up. This is going to be an awesome race.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as co-hosting the popular racing show, HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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